How to roast a turkey is an easy recipe for beginners that want to cook a whole turkey in a roasting pan with a homemade rack for Thanksgiving. It shows you what herbs are best for seasoning a bird so your unstuffed turkey comes out moist when cooked in your kitchen oven.
For the Turkey
- 14-pound turkey, fully thawed
- 2 tablespoons salted butter, softened
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups chicken broth
For the Aromatics
- 2 carrots, cut in 1 1/2 chunks
- 1 onion, cut in quarters
- handful of celery leaves
Preparing the Turkey
- Allow the turkey 3-4 days to defrost in the refrigerator.
- Take the thawed turkey out of the fridge so it can warm up to room temperature. This can take 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Remove the neck, giblets (heart, liver, gizzard) and possibly a gravy bag from the body or neck cavity. You can throw them out or keep them for giblet gravy or giblet stuffing.
- Clean the turkey inside and out by rinsing it with cold water.
- Place the turkey breast side up on a baking tray and pat it dry with paper towels.
- If you don’t have a roasting rack for the turkey, make your own with foil. Take a long sheet of aluminum foil and roll it up tightly from one of its long sides to make a snake. Cut two more sheets of foil and wrap them tightly around the snake to make a firm rope. The snake needs to be able to support a 14-pound turkey without flattening. Shape the coil into a lowercase “e” shape and place in the roasting pan.
Preparing the Oven & Aromatics
- Lower the oven rack to the bottom, or second from the bottom. This helps the turkey roast in the center of the oven.
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Place the quartered onion, carrots, and celery leaves inside the cavity. These vegetables will flavor the turkey from the inside, but will be thrown out after the turkey is roasted. Crumple up a piece of aluminum foil to cover the cavity opening.
- For ease, leave the turkey un-trussed.
- Rub the turkey all over with softened butter. Make sure it is dry otherwise the butter won’t stick. Generously sprinkle with salt and pepper to help add extra flavor.
- Using kitchen twine, cross the legs and tie the drumstick ends tightly together, then bring the twine under the wings to lift them up higher so they can brown better. Tie the twine in a knot at the neck opening. If you prefer, tuck the wings under the body, for a more compact look.
- Pour 2 cups of chicken stock into the roasting pan.
Roasting the Turkey
- Place the turkey uncovered in the oven.
- Decrease the oven temperature from the preheat temperature of 400 F to 350 F.
- Roast the turkey for 1 1/2 hours. Using a turkey baster or big spoon, baste the drippings all over the turkey. Do this at the 1 1/2 hour mark and every 30 minutes afterward until it’s done. A 14-pound turkey would be basted for a maximum of 5 times: 1 1/2 hours, 2 hours, 2 1/2 hours, 3 hours and when it comes out of the oven. If the turkey is browning too quickly, cover loosely with foil.
- Roast the turkey for 13 minutes per pound. A 14-pound turkey will take just over 3 hours. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature in the deepest part of the thigh away from any bones. The temperature should read 165 F, and the juices should be clear when the thermometer is pulled out.
- Save the pan juices to make homemade giblet gravy.
Resting the Turkey
- Let the turkey rest, breast side up, on a large cutting board with grooves or on a large tray with sides for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Tent the turkey loosely with foil. When it rests, the internal temperature will continue to rise to 170 F. The resting time allows the juices to redistribute, so the turkey will be more moist. The turkey will release juices onto the cutting board during this time. Tent it loosely with foil to keep it warm.
- Carve the turkey in this order: drumsticks, thighs, breasts, wings. Don’t keep the cooked turkey at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Refrigerate or freeze any leftovers. Keep the bones for turkey stock, bone broth, or turkey soup.
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- Category: Dinner
- Method: Roasted
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: roasted turkey, Thanksgiving